Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
English, Linguistics, and Communication
Department Chair or Program Director
Major or Concentration
In 1922, Virginia Woolf began writing Mrs. Dalloway as reports of shell shocked soldiers began coming out. Treatments were being created and doctors were putting those treatments into practice at the same time. Woolf was armed with her own experiences in the area of treatments for mental health and created Septimus Smith to display how wrong the contemporary treatments are for those struggling with their mental health. Septimus’ doctors, Dr. Holmes and Sir William Bradshaw, were examples of the way doctors ignored the trauma many patients were processing after coming back from the war. By creating these characters and having them use the current treatments on Septimus, it shed light on an area that was not previously addressed. Rezia’s compassion in the end, as well as Septimus’ eventual suicide, hammered home Woolf’s message that the current treatments and doctors are not what needs to be done for mental health patients.
McCotter, Mackenzie K., "Septimus Smith Had to Die: An Examination of Virginia Woolf’s Frustration with the Mental Health System After WWI" (2020). Student Research Submissions. 317.